The 2012 regular season is behind us, and it is time to look back and see what fools we were. Baseball has a way of making fools; this is precisely why so many fools are continually allowed to make a living writing and talking about the game, regardless of how unforgivable their sins. Leading up to Opening Day 2012, Dizzy and I made a few hair-brained sleeper picks, that is, players previously not thought too much about who were poised to shake the foundations of greatness in the game. We poured through the statistics, ignored the pundits on television, read the last page of The Book, and sought out the Old Man on the Hill, whose name changes with each season, all in hopes of securing some foresight into the coming season. After fours day of search, and two pairs each of shoes (they don't make 'em like they used to), we found him, boarded up in the attic room of a dilapidated cabin, peering out through one of those rounded windows that opens on a swivel. He used to rock back and forth on the porch stoop of the town's general store, smoking black cheroots and flicking pennies at children until the arthritis gobbled up his joints, putting an end to his trips to town. Legend says he won his fortune on a preseason bet on the 1969 Mets and paid for a hip-replacement picking the 2006 Cardinals. The man just intuits things.
But upon our meeting the man presently named Cid, it became apparent that arthritis was not the only aflliction plaguing the old man, for his years had obviously taken their toll on his brain. Words slithered from his cracked lips, dropping to the wooden floor in their pools of drool. Foolish words about Baltimore and a rookie staff in Oakland and a 20-year dominating baseball and the reemergence of the knuckleball. We nodded, choked down his cheroots, and lumbered down the hill. We played a what-if game on the ride back and came up with our own conclusions. Here is how we did.